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The Native Southern Fire Ant Is An Aggressive Species That Inflicts Painful Stings And Infests Homes, And At Least One Envenomation Incident Resulted In Death

The Native Southern Fire Ant Is An Aggressive Species That Inflicts Painful Stings And Infests Homes, And At Least One Envenomation Incident Resulted In Death

The S. xyloni ant species is one of three fire ant species found in Arizona, the others being S. aureus and S. amblychila. The red-imported fire ant is the most well known fire ant species in the United States, and while this species is invasive in the US, many people are surprised to learn that some fire ants are native to the US, one of which is the S. xyloni species. The S. xyloni fire ant species is commonly referred to as the “southern fire ant,” and this species can be recognized by their dark reddish-brown exterior that is covered in golden hairs.

Like other fire ant species, the southern fire ant often inflicts damage to lawns which can sometimes be costly for homeowners. When fire ants infest a lawn their unsightly dirt mounds become a conspicuous part of the landscape, and southern fire ant nests can also become established indoors. Much like red imported fire ants, southern fire ants will emerge out of their nests in large numbers if they become distrubed. These ants will not hesitate to climb onto a person’s body before inflicting numerous stings, which can be fatal to those with an allergy to arthropod venoms. These ants can also establish indoor infestations that can pose both a medical risk to a home’s inhabitants as well as a nuisance. The southern fire ant prefers to establish colonies within lawns where grass is stressed and dry, making them a prominent species in southern Arizona. This species can also establish nests within wall-voids, below carpeting, and in crawl spaces, and colonies can grow to contain 10,000 individual ants. While anaphylaxis does not often occur in response to southern fire ant stings, this species was believed to have caused the death of a three month old baby after the ant pests invaded a day care center.

Have you ever experienced a fire ant infestation either indoors or outdoors?